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Postcard 03/01

TJ von Oehsen's picture

During our book group meeting last week, Ben Hart told me about how Ta Nehisi Coates' book, Between The World and Me takes its title after a poem by Richard Wright and takes the form of a letter he is writing to his son. I immediately thought about how, for this postcard, I would read and illustrate the poem's message as a jumping off point for reading the book. Yet, upon reading the poem, I was at an utter loss. The imagery and power of Wright's words is as real as could be imagined and I knew that I would never be able to encapture the feelings of this poem in a drawing. What I also realized, looking inward, was that I was very nervous of illustrating anything regarding the scenes of this poem. The scene Wright describes is a violent violation of human rights as it relates to racism in the United States. I realized however, that me shying away from drawing something is a perpetuation of the distance that many try to put between themselves and the actions of others. I also realized that, as a white male, if I was uncomfortable and had a hard time drawing a bunch of stick figures, I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to write this poem. I also can not fathom being the one who has to begin to explain and confront all of this to my son. This poem has made me that much more excited to begin reading Coates' book and I can not wait to see how he goes about such a seemingly painful task.